ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Some quick halftime thoughts as No. 1 Temple (27-5) and No. 5 Rhode Island (23-8) play in the first Atlantic-10 semifinal.
Just like Friday’s quarterfinal game vs. St. Bonaventure, Temple’s Juan Fernandez had another great start. The 6-foot-2 sophomore guard opened up by hitting a 3; then tied up URI center 7-0 center Will Martell for jump ball; followed up with a pair of runners in the lane; assisted on a Micheal Eric lay-in; and then hit a driving baseline runner. At that point it was 11-2 Temple and Fernandez had 9 points on 4 of 4 shooting and 1 assist.
Temple closed out the half with its largest lead of the game (17 points); URI has a long way to go before it can think about a lead. First, the Runnin' Rams better figure out how to shoot. URI was a dreadful 7-for-30 (.233) from the floor. Temple was 13 of 23 (.565) from the field. That's the difference in this game.
Ryan Brooks leads Temple with 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting. Martell’s 4 points lead Rhode Island’s scoring.
The first half was delayed approximately 10 minutes because of a leak in the roof. The delay occurred with 13:49 left and Temple leading 11-2. Even after play resumed, Boardwalk Hall maintenance workers were toweling off the spot near center court the next several stoppages of play. There is a significant Nor’easter hitting the Eastern seaboard this weekend with the heavy rain expected to continue through Sunday. I wonder if there’s a leak at the Palestra in Philadelphia (where I think this tourney should be played)?
Houston's surprising win over UTEP in the Conference USA final has put the Cougars in the field of 65. And it conversely has moved Rhode Island to outside looking in status in Joe Lunardi's latest Bracket Math. That should provide better motivation than anything URI coach Jim Baron could say in the locker room. Let's see if/how Rhody responds.